Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Instagram Photography and Styling Workshop Recap


Hey guys! Hope everyone is doing well! If you are like me then your favorite social media app has to be Instagram. I love it. It is one of the main tools I use for my blog whether it be previewing an upcoming post, showcasing my favorite outfits, what I'm wearing that day, where I'm traveling to or connecting with the audience (yay, you guys!). This is why I was excited to attend a Instagram Photography and Styling workshop held by the super talented duo of Sarah Elizabeth from Repertoire Assist and Kelly of Spindle Photography. The event was held at our local West Elm (it is so adorable and looks like a live home Instagram post). I'm excited to share what I learned! 

The class kicked off by welcoming each person and telling a little about themselves. We then broke into three groups and did various activities. I was in the first group with Sarah Elizabeth who taught us a little about styling and brought some props for us to use around the store for photos. One of the keys she stressed to us is about what you want the photo to convey. Do you want everything perfect and to make sense or more of a controlled chaos feel? I tend to mix mine up on Insta but prefer to have a bit more uniform look. However, I do have those pics that pack a lot in yet still make sense (hopefully!). I took a few props and began to style.

Sarah Elizabeth told us about how with just a few items you can show and tell your audience with the photo. For instance, a blanket, book, and coffee mug can instantly tell your followers you are enjoying a cozy day at home. Filters can play a big part, in this instance, I made the photo a bit brighter to make the autumn colors pop. However, you can easily tone the color down and get an almost wintery feel to the photo.

I do a lot of DIY and home decorating posts on the blog so it was really beneficial to see how just a few items can transform a picture. You can get little props anywhere as Sarah Elizabeth pointed out,from the Dollar Tree to Target to thrift stores have little knick knacks and items to add that something special to a pic.

I used a wood table in the store but another great idea that was shared is to go somewhere such as a Home Depot or Lowes and grab a few marble slabs, granite, wood pieces, etc. that you can place your items on for different effects on your photos. Those pieces often tend to photograph better and you can easily move it to better lighting because let's face it, it would be hard to move your kitchen table outside for natural light.

As our group was wrapping up we were then asked to complete a task of taking pictures of donuts around the store with some of the tips we had been taught. Ok, y'all know me and donuts are kind of my thing so this was an excellent activity! Food is usually pretty easy to photograph but I will tell you, appetizers and desserts are usually the prettiest, most appealing foods to use.  Items such as cheese boards, fruit plates, donuts, macaroons, decorative cookies, etc. are easy to arrange and have good contrast.
Backdrops can be important too, sometimes a kitchen counter with a little "mess" around it (think a wooden spoon with some batter on it, cookie sheets, things like that) add some more interest to the photo. Holding a food item (again something easy like a donut) up against a backdrop like I did with the Christmas tree above and the bedspread below is an easy way to allow contrast while the food is still the focus.
One of my favorite poses for Instagram is the popular "from where I stand". It's so easy to take (just make sure you have on cute shoes or toes are painted. Ok, at least toenails are trimmed and neat).
This shot can showcase your location, clothing, accessories, and the item you are holding (I do this all the time with movie and concert tickets, handheld foods, donuts). The best part is it is an easy pose and you can take it almost anywhere.

After taking photos of our donuts (then eating the donuts) my group moved onto the third and final lesson. Kelly, who is a professional photographer, showed us some slides of different photos with filters, iPhone photos, photos taken with a real camera, and told us about the best filtering apps to use. She suggested Snapseed and VSCO, which are both very good editing apps. I personally use both of those in addition, I also love Aviary and Faded. Kelly stressed the importance of natural lighting when taking your photos and plating around with filters to see which ones you like best.

Like styling, arrangement is also important, you don't want to overwhelm the audience but you also want your photo to stand out in the thousands of photos out there. Kelly showed us a little more about arranging pieces as well as taking the same photo at different angles. It's amazing how the same items can look so different with just a little switching up or looking at it a different way!

One thing I have always wondered is how do some bloggers and Instagrammers have such clean desk areas? The answer is they probably don't. Another secret Kelly shared with us is how using a piece of whiteboard can create that clean, bare illusion which is perfect for a backdrop. You can buy the whiteboard at places like Hobby Lobby, Target, etc. They are cheap plus it's a good prop that you can use over and over!

Kelly then we through a step by step process on how to take a really good Instagram shot, this is a great illustration of the controlled chaos that was mentioned earlier. Once again it is really important to get good lighting, think about all the times you have been out and you try to get a group shot and the lighting is terrible? That's when the filters come in handy but for blog posts, natural light is often the best filter you can use. Arrangement and styling play a big part as well, you know what you like but don't be afraid to rearrange things and use different angles!

I had an absolute blast at the workshop! It was so fun learning from Sarah Elizabeth and Kelly plus getting to talk to fellow bloggers and those who just wanted to learn more about Instagram/ photography. Instagram is a great tool for you to be creative and showcase your "skills". Don't get too wrapped up in creating the perfect shot, have fun with it! I love playing around with different apps but don't go overboard on filters and the Photoshop, they begin to lose that authentic touch.

Most of all have fun with it! Whether you are taking fashion photos for your blog, food arrangement or puppies, make the photo your own and share it with the world. Well, Instagram but that's kind of the same thing, right? Get out and start snapping! Be sure to follow me on Instagram for all the latest on my blog fashion, food, home, travel, I pretty much document it all.

Thanks again to Sarah Elizabeth, Kelly and the lovely West Elm at the Summit and their fabulous employees for such a great class and creating such a wonderful workspace!

Happy Styling and Instagramming!



  1. I'm so jealous you went! I'm sad I could not attend becaus it looked amazing.

  2. I wish you would have been there! Super jealous of all your Colorado pics!! It looks like y'all had a great trip! Very-Instagram worthy :)